In this episode, we speak about all things customer marketing with Scott K. Wilder, VP of Customer, Partner and Community Engagement at Base.ai and Eran Livneh, Founder and Chief ABM Officer of MarketCapture.
In this episode, we speak about all things customer marketing with Scott K. Wilder, VP of Customer, Partner and Community Engagement at Base.ai and Eran Livneh, Founder and Chief ABM Officer of MarketCapture.
Scott leads customer, partner, and community engagement at Base.io, he was the former head of customer engagement and community at HubSpot, and held marketing leadership roles at world class companies including Udacity, Coursera, Adobe, Marketo, and Intuit.
Eran helps B2B software companies grow by implementing Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and Customer-Led Growth (CLG) programs. His client engagements range from part-time interim CMO to project-based assignments. Either way, it's all about results - define, plan, deliver, measure & adjust.
Learn more about Scott K Wilder
Learn more about Base.ai
Learn more about Eran Livneh
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Peter: Hey, Eran and Scott, thank you so much for being on the next CMO podcast. We're really excited to have the conversation today and because I have two guests now I have to vary my approach, and I'm gonna have to ask each of you to give us a little bit about your backgrounds and sort of where you're working today.
So, since I've had Iran on the show before people may remember. Maybe I'll start with you, Scott, since you're the new guy on the next CMO. So Scott, give us a little bit about your background and what you're doing today.
Scott: Sure. Well, first of all, thanks for having me. So I'm a native new Yorker that moved to California in the nineties. Cuz there was something called the internet that everybody was getting excited about. So I came out here for. and since that time I've worked at several big companies I would say I'm historically a big company person, but that's changing.
So I've worked at Intuit, Adobe Corsera HubSpot most recently. And now I'm at company called base, which really [00:01:00] focuses on how do you automate and improve the whole workflow process for customer marketers and people focus on customer engagement. And what I mean by that? , customer marketers tend to be a one or two person show, not a lot of resources, even in the bigger companies.
So how do you automate advocacy? How do you automate references? How do you connect with your customers in the life cycle and from a kind of DNA nature versus nurture perspective? I think that I'm a customer engagement person who in about 2015 really decided to go deep into growth and product market.
And the reason I did that is when I think about customer marketing and the platforms we use, I try and have a product mindset and think about how do you grow that product?
Peter: Well, that's great. And it's very meta of course. So you've got not only are you the head of customer engagement for a platform that does customer. But you've got a long history of [00:02:00] customer engagement leadership, which is super exciting for this discussion, because we're gonna talk about you guessed it, customer engagement.
So Eran give us a little bit of the thumbnail view of who you are, what you're all about and what we're gonna talk about with you.
Eran: Sure thanks. Peter for having us here. And thanks Scott for joining me on this. So yeah, I've moved around a little bit as well. Kind of like in a different direction. Originally from Israel then moved to California and then made my way to the east coast here in Boston. First enterprise software job that I had was with click software, which is now part of salesforce.
And I've been in various marketing and product marketing roles with enterprise software companies since then. Most recently I've been doing most of it as an independent consultant or contractor. And I typically help early stage software companies with things that range from product positioning to account based marketing.
And then more recently. [00:03:00] Focusing on customer marketing and customer led growth.
Peter: Well, I'm super excited to have you both on on the podcast today. And this topic in general, where we're gonna talk about customer marketing or customer based marketing or base marketing or community marketing or whatever we want to call it. Maybe I'll ask you about that in a minute. What the right term or terms are.
But it's super important in this world, of course, where, especially if you're in the business of of creating enduring and hopefully expanding customer bases we all know that it's far more efficient to retain customers and grow customers than it is to go get new ones. And the idea of being deliberate about your approach to really nurture and expand those customer bases and create customer value is super important and where I wanted to start.
So Scott, you've been doing this for a while as [00:04:00] as a leader back when you were doing this at HubSpot, as an example, doing these at really scale kind of companies. Has this idea of customer marketing changed with the emergence of the customer success function over the last decade or so? So I has that new leader or newly branded leader in the organization changed the approach that people have for for the marketing side of customer engage.
Scott: Yes, it has. I believe it has. And my experience in the last, 15 years has been more in the high tech SaaS mid-market enterprise space. So I think that lens is really important. The reason being is I like to tell folks is I started my career at American. Which was a B2C play when I was there.
And they were probably the most sophisticated, all the companies I've worked at, even up until today in terms of we'll call it retention, marketing, or marketing to your installed base. [00:05:00] So, I got spoiled up front and I saw what was possible. And now I'm hoping that I can ride this wave.
So what I believe has happened happening over the past. 10 or 15 years in the, in environments I've worked in retention marketing has really been dispersed across the organization. You find even that, companies that I've recently worked at. Email marketing was across five different groups.
You found web the webinar team different than the email team. You found all these different groups with the word customer in them, customer success, customer marketing, customer support. So it was really dispersed. What's happened in the last two years. And HubSpot was one of the, I think, innovators in this.
Is it consolidated more and more of these retention sort of activities under customer marketing and in larger organizations. It's not something that happens overnight. And if you look at something like community was in support, now it's moving into customer marketing. You found [00:06:00] webinars was kind of dispersed across the organization.
So we first had everything dispersed in this kind of, that big bang. Everything was moving out in different directions. Now it's coming back under customer marketing and we believe the next phase is this customer-led growth play where the customer marketer who's really developing that muscle of being customer first can work with other parts of the organization and lead them to be customer. And, there's a lot of war terms used out used today. Like community led growth customer led growth. I mean, I think a lot of that is you're just trying to get the ecosystem all on the same page and a good place to start is with your customer. And so the evolution has been from dispersed to customer marketing to this customer led growth that is organizing and leading all the company's customer led initiatives.
Peter: So who's driving the bus in this case. So this reminds me a little bit. The idea of customer experience, right? So customer experience is one of those things where [00:07:00] people say, Hey, the CMO owns customer experience, or the CEO owns customer experience. It's the same thing that you deal with in this case where you probably have a lot of people doing the Al ha I'm in charge kind of thing in saying I've got the ball and I'm gonna lead.
This customer led growth kind of thing. But of course there are now many executives around the table who may be participating in this discussion. So how does it get owned? Is it one person? Is it an orchestration issue? So what are your thoughts, Scott? And I'm gonna ask you after around about how you see this from company to company, how it changes, but Scott gimme your perspective.
Scott: Well, I love the fact you used the word orchestration because I think that is really the key, I think historically companies have said, okay, there has to be one person, a C leader guy who's, gonna who owns everything and. If I take a page from my growth marketing days, these I look at the growth squad model where you have cross functional teams.
[00:08:00] There is a team leader, but it's a cross functional team. That's basically has that, single focus. I forget what Amazon calls it, but like the single focus on solving a problem. So at Adobe, which, when I was there a few years ago, I'd say this was kind of an earlier stage of this model.
I was hired to be part of a cross-functional team that had to solve the first mile. And the first mile was defined of the first 24 first 30 days that somebody had Adobe Lightroom. So we had this cross-functional team, there were five of us. We were given two metrics to solve. We had a team leader and right away, we said, well, wait, 30 days is a lifetime.
So first of all, we're gonna solve it in the 24 hours. We're that's our timeframe. How, if your customer is not happy within 24 hours, then you're in trouble. And for a light room, it was really, I call it the Walt, the photo Walt, you had to get somebody to import edit and share import, edit, and share.
And if you did that, then they [00:09:00] pass that aha moment and you had them. So what's really key to answer. Your question is it's an orchestrated play. There is a team lead. It is cross functional, but the days of saying market. you own this and go two, that those are.
Peter: So I would say I, I would guess Iran, you can confirm or deny that Scott is probably a lot more evolved than most people are out there, because what you've alluded to in that very brief description of what you did with Adobe at Lightroom is this. Multifunctional coordination that you had to think about.
You had to think about obviously onboarding a new customer, the marketing side of that, but it also went into the product side of things. I suspect, because you want to think about how you are measuring that activity within the product, as an example, and maybe changing the experience in the product. So Iran, give me a sense for.
If Scott is a 10, when it comes to an [00:10:00] evolved customer marketing executive where are most people and what does it look like? What are sort of the common kind of struggles that most customers you're dealing with, most of your clients are faced with these.
Eran: Yeah, I think it's a great question. And I think you described it very accurately. I think we're in a transformational phase. So we actually see, I see companies pretty much across the entire spectrum. Like, if Scott is a 10, I see everything from a one to a 10 out there. And, but I would say most of the companies that I see are probably somewhere between three to.
And they're really just starting to figure out that there is some muscle that has to be built here if they want to do what you described as retention, marketing, and do it at scale. Because what I find out, what I find today is that most companies have retention and they have marketing.
They don't have retention marketing. So retention usually sits. Customer [00:11:00] success and customer success has seen a huge evolution over the past three to five years. So, so there is a lot of good activity there, but marketing still, mostly, most people think about it as brand and demand generation. And when you try to marry the two, then you becomes like a question of whose turf are you stepping onto?
And I think what I found that for myself, when. Led customer marketing is that I had to make sure that everybody understood that I wasn't out there to take what they're doing today and assume responsibility for it. But I was more seeing myself as what, what you both described as orchestrating the process and basically.
Seeing how we can take what is already being done in customer marketing, how we can take what is already, I'm sorry, in customer success, how we can take what is already being done in marketing or demand generation and how we can marry the two in a [00:12:00] way that really gives us customer marketing or retention, marketing and do it at scale.
So I think it's, they're very much still an evolutionary. Space. And I think that what most companies are trying to figure out is where do we want to go? And what is the roadmap? How do we get there?
Scott: I would just jump in and say it's definitely a new muscle for a lot of people. And here's an example. One of the companies I was at, I talked about shared metrics across organization and the person I reported to had a hard time with that, cuz he wanted accountability. So there has to be this mind shift change. Teams people working together and people owning those metrics together and you might even have to apply it to tie it to their compensation. There's what they do as an individual, but then also at the team level. So.
Peter: Scott you made some really good points about how B2C companies have been [00:13:00] doing this. Longer and I think in a more sophisticated way, but also in your example, I think you brought up American express which is of course an impressive marketing machine. If you think about the difference between large companies and how they're thinking about customer marketing and retention, marketing, as an example in small companies what are those key differences?
And and. It's probably a little bit different for you at base because you guys are in the domain, obviously. So I suspect you're more sophisticated than your size in many ways, but as small companies start to tackle this the first time, especially how are they typically starting to get engaged when they're probably dealing with generalists, they don't have the luxury of having a Scott.
Who's a deep specialist in this area. Yeah.
Scott: So I think, first they need to think about their retention or customer marketing goals and how they line up, and I think [00:14:00] that's even like a good exercise. Two is a lot of times they'll stick a younger person. And I mean, younger in terms of, I should use somebody with less experience. in this role where they have to run retention and customer marketing and what I would advise them to do. And cuz I is that I would find people in the industry who can mentor them. Right. Who's actually gone through it first and together, the leader, the mentor and the the person who's doing the work or leading the effort there is figure out like where you're gonna start and start.
Right. You're not gonna be like HubSpot where you have tons of resources, but figure out where you wanna start first. So I talked to somebody today who I'm helping out and she wasn't sure where to start. And so we agreed that she would start in identifying her advocates, both the advocates she knows about and the advocate, she's gotta find some other advocates, but [00:15:00] basically start there with 50 people and just work with them to figure out what's important in terms.
what they want as customers. Right. Just starting simple, something as simple as that. So those are kind of three different ways. I would start.
Peter: And are there sort of, common set of resources that you would point people to when it comes to coming up to speed? So say your. That relatively new to customer marketing kind of professional as an example, or you see it as an opportunity. And by the way, I think it's a huge opportunity for someone at any point in their marketing career to dive deeper into this kind of marketing, because I think the world is now woke especially in software and certainly in SAS that this idea of retention and expansion of your base is the lifeblood of a healthy company.
So where's the watering hole that you'd recommend that these people would go to to learn more, to, to find those mentors in the [00:16:00] world? Or is it just call around? That might be a solution
Scott: No, there are actually quite a number of slack communities out there. One of them we're very active in, in help run. But there's just, there's a number of slack communities out there. I think the question will be, if you're a customer marketer, You can't, there's so many aspects to it.
So again, I talked about focusing, so it could be community could be references, could be advocacy, could be stories, but even within those four or five different areas, their slack community's dedicated to them. And then also I think, LinkedIn is a wealth of information. And so trying to find out, doing some simple searches of people to, to follow their Those and I can go into specifics, maybe we do that in the notes afterwards, but those are some of the things I would think about.
And then, just being transparent is I'm working on kind of answering that question right now because it's difficult to clone people like myself or other people who have even more experience than me. So creating that watering hole where, others can go to.
Eran: Yeah. If.
Peter: Yeah, I think it's [00:17:00] a, go ahead,
Eran: Yeah. I mean, I think that Scott definitely pointed to some resources that exist today. I think that the LAR the biggest challenge that I see is that most of these resources and most of where customer marketing have been focused today is on the advocacy side. And, you can relate to any of the other terms that Scott mentioned in, in that aspect.
I think that when you talk about the true retention marketing which is, how do we increase adoption? How do we deliver value to customers? How do we make them aware of the best practices and how they can become more successful using our product, all these kind of things. I think that those are relatively new and there are relatively few resources out there for marketing.
To draw from. So I think, as Scott mentioned, yes, people like Scott, myself and others are trying to build awareness [00:18:00] around these practices and create content out there that would help people chart the courses. They, as they try to expand the scope of what customer marketing is and drive towards customer led growth.
But I think it is. An evolving space and there is still a lot of reliance on people that have been there, done that to make it happen. The one other thing that I would mention is that I think a lot of it is up to the CMO. I mean, this is the next CMO podcast. So I think this is a real opportunity for the CMO to a assume a leadership position within the executive team on this issue.
And B. Create some growth opportunities within the marketing team for someone to step up to this role and really grow with the function. So I think those are some great opportunities for CMOs that have the vision to make it happen.
Peter: I'm glad you brought that up Iran because I completely agree that the, I [00:19:00] idea of making it a real priority at the CMOs office, I think is incredibly important. And. I think in the past, a lot of people have given us a little bit of lip service. And Scott, you mentioned that in, in the past, there may be people who, especially maybe at smaller companies where they may bring someone in who's earlier in their career, or has less experience in this domain and bring them in and say, oh, well, bill will do it or Sally will do it.
And and they'll be the reference person or they'll be the advocacy person because they were doing social media before. And the reality is they're thinking about. Completely incorrectly in that case. And I think that one of the most important things that the CMO should do is really get comfortable with understanding and then communicating the true economic value of this retention.
And when you're speaking to your CEO or your CFO or your board. You can probably talk about the valuation multiple [00:20:00] lift that you'd get for every single point of of net dollar retention, as an example is the kind of discussion that you probably need to have. So how should people think about that and how should a CMO sort of start to get themselves educated around sort of. Building that economic case for a real focus on customer attention.
Scott: Yeah, I think the first thing, so I totally agree with you guys. It's, the CMO has to play this role in, in leadership. I think the CMO has to. Really, I mean, start at home first and really understand the economics of their own customers. Some of the things you said, and I know that sounds crazy, but sometimes they don't.
Right. And so understanding the value of, where the, where their revenue is coming from, what percent's coming from new customers, what percent's coming from existing customers, what products are driving sales and things like. And if the [00:21:00] CMO doesn't know that, then that's another issue.
But then I think they need to sit down, with their team and take them through those economics and have that and have them, open kimono, share the information and be open to questions. Right. Cuz some people might not have the same experience as the CMO in terms of where to do that, I find that, for me and maybe it's cuz of where I started.
I did a lot of call it personal research on financial institutions, airlines, credit cards. There's a lot of information out there that, you can get about like how they think about retention. So I looked at the industries that focus maybe more on loyalty and, call it loyalty, call it retention.
But really trying to understand those economics. And then this, what I did is I reached out to individuals at those. explain to me like how they think about it. So I think as a CMO first, understand your own backyard, and two is look at some of these other industries and then literally go on LinkedIn.
I mean, the great news is that, people are really willing [00:22:00] to share, right. Unless you're a competitor, but I think reaching out to under to individuals who have that experie. And bring them on as your advisory board or bring them, figure out what the right, engagement metrics with them are sort the right engagement with them is, and bring them on as somebody who can guide you through this thought process.
Eran: Yeah, I would just add to this. And I think you, if you're a V if you're VC funded or private equity funded those people will definitely have an opinion about. And you can find your allies there. I'm pretty sure. Also, if you look at blogs that are written by some of the leading VC VC folks you will definitely find a lot that are explaining why you need to pay attention to your customers increase your NR or NDR and what will it, it will do to your valuation, as you said.
So I think those. Some excellent starting points to educate yourself and your team about the value and also advocate for it within the organization. So I think that's one [00:23:00] place I would go.
Peter: No, that's good. So one of the, one of my favorite blogs in this area is is Cal blog. I'm not sure if you're familiar with with Dave Kellogg in his work. But he does great work and he also happens to be an advisor to plan in my company. He wrote the forward to my book. So, I'm always happy to plug that.
So I'll put a copy of a link. Of tol blog and maybe pick one or two of the great articles in this particular topic area. And I'll ask these gentlemen, after to, to give us a couple of resources that we'll put in the show notes too, that they recommend other places to to check out which, which would be really helpful for people.
Scott: I was just gonna say, like I run into, we talked about somebody, we both know who's a founder of kayak, Paul English. I think, there's a lot of like founder groups, small groups of founders, CEOs who get together. maybe I'm missing it, but I don't [00:24:00] see that as much with CMOs.
And I think that's really valuable to get, together with people like you, who are dealing with the same business issues. And even though like, former CEO of HubSpot, he had his group, so it doesn't matter how big, how small you are. But there's just so much learning and especially around like the metrics and, retention, things like that.
Peter: Well, excellent opportunity for me to plug the next CMO community by the way. So I'll make sure I put a link in there and I know Iran is a member, so thanks for bringing it up, Scott. So I'll make sure we,
Scott: I have to join.
Peter: in these. You have to join. It's definitely worth the price of admission, which is zero.
So, we have a very low bar to get over, to get a return on that investment. Speaking of return on investment, by the way I know I had a link to this. The, one of the things I should mention is that, in our software, we help people build plans and measure return on investment by campaigns, et cetera. Almost to the last [00:25:00] single case, every single case where I've seen our customers measure return on investment for customer based marketing, it's always in the top quadrant of performers. Always it just is a really high value return on your marketing dollar, cuz it tends to be inexpensive to do, even if you, it doesn't mean spend no money by the way.
In fact, you can spend money effectively to create great value, but there's an amazing amount of value that you can create from your customer base by helping them understand. They can get value from your company and across sell as an example is probably the best example of of where and back to people like financial institutions.
They're so expert at that. If you've got a checking account, great, you need a savings account. You need a mortgage, you need a car loan. You need financial planning service. Cetera. So tho those kind of cross-selling sort of expanding the relationship, getting a better share of wallet are great opportunities and always have a great return on the marketing investment that's there.
So [00:26:00] tell me a little bit about about the tech stack. So if you were to say, you what's the core. What are the core assets in your tech stack that you need to have in place when it comes to being ready for doing effective customer marketing? What do you think those are? Scott, start with you.
Scott: Well, the center of gravity is your CRM system. Like I'd start there. So some central place where you are tracking customer and prospect. Right. It's a customer relationship management. Maybe it should be a ecosystem relationship management system. So, and that could be, a HubSpot, it could be a sales force.
They both have very different approaches to it. And then the next question is, I mean, we are still leaning a lot on email campaigns and things like that. So is that gonna be an extension of one of those platforms or are you gonna use something. I think with customer marketing there's a bias here.
my side is like I work for a company that has a customer marketing automation system. I think that is really important because the CRM [00:27:00] systems don't necessarily track some of the engagements that are important, like, advocacy references, et cetera. So those are some key elements and. On your website, then I would also look at how you're communicating with folks.
So I talked about, the website, I talked about email, I'm a big fan of chat. And so I think there's a lot of opportunity there, whether it's with Intercom or drift. So those are just some of the examples. But the framework I use and then I'll be quiet. As I think about. , what do I need to do my job with my audience?
And so for, marketing cus to customer marketers. So I have to think about the platforms I thought, mentioned, but then I think about my ecosystem and where my audience is, and if they're on community platforms, if they're on LMS platforms. And so I will incorporate those into my marketing and sales and learning stack.
Eran: Yeah, one, one thing I would add to it. And I think those. Definitely key [00:28:00] elements that Scott mentioned. One thing I would add to it is the data element. And I think that again, thinking about the CMO as a CMO, I think I would want to have all the key metrics that are associated with customer marketing right on my dashboard and where this dashboard resides is a different.
But I think it's really key that I'm able to pull all this data from all these different systems and understand how my customer marketing activities are impacting the key metrics, whether it's the engagement metrics, which are sort of like the basic stuff. But all the way down to the business, the key business metrics, like the net dollar retention and.
And adoption rates and all the kind of things that are really moving the needle on the business side.
Scott: I love that. I want, sorry, I'm just add one more thing. So definitely need that. I think it's really important to expose that to the company. So at Udacity, we had a board right in the hall. [00:29:00] This is when we did work at the office. But we had a big board that everybody could. so the CMOs dashboard was basically there for everybody to see.
And it's people following stocks on the floor of the stock exchange, it's like, you see it all there. It becomes part of everybody's job. Everybody feels, like it's more important to them. I think that, exposing, figuring out how to get the data out, creating a dashboard for the CMO and then creating a place.
all the employees can see that data on a daily basis. And if you're we're working at home, then it needs to be part of your portal, your employee.
Peter: Well, that's great. So believe it or not, we're about at the end of our time. And I'll ask you my final question in just a second, but one, one thing to think about is is especially cuz we always wrap up asking people what their advice is to current or aspiring CMOs. As you answer that question, I'd love both of you to weigh in on the the idea of.
Customer marketing is a path [00:30:00] to the CMO office. And do you believe that it is gonna be a more reliable way to get that CMO job over time? As as people become more and more aware of the value of this approach. And I assume you'll say yes, cuz you're both in this area. So I'll be efficient.
And just say after you say yes give me your what, your advice that you would give to a current or aspiring CMO. So maybe we'll start with you Iran.
Eran: Sure. So, yes, I think that Again as a CMO or as an aspiring CMO. One of the key leverages, I think that you have to elevate the value that you deliver to the company is focusing on the customer. And I think that there are many ways to do about it, and I cannot encapsulate all of it in one sentence, but there is one thing that I always find very helpful, which is, think about the language that you use.
And I think that as a [00:31:00] company, we tend to, even with marketing, we tend to be in many cases, just thinking about our own language and our own. Benefits from whatever we do. So we talk about adoption. We talk about expansion. We talk about advocacy. These are all the things that are happening to us. I think that if you can start.
Articulating and using the language that talks about the customers such as, how can we help our customers become more successful? How can we help them extend, expand their own brand, both company and personal brand by highlighting their success. I think that if you start doing this on a consistent basis and you weave it into how you talk to your team and how you see your own role at the company.
I think that positions you well to become a leader and take the company to the next level of becoming a real customer [00:32:00] advocacy oriented brand.
Peter: Excellent. Thanks, Iran. And Scott, last word to you.
Scott: Well, speaking of language, so CMO means something different for me, it means customer marketing officer. So that's where I think we're going.
Peter: I love it. I love it. That's fantastic. And any parting advice to current or aspiring CMOs?
Scott: I think, we don't know it all. I think really reaching out to people that in the trenches who have actually been doing a lot of this customer marketing, a lot of retention work, we are in an earlier phase, but. Loyalty marketing is a great place to start. You can learn a lot from the BDC world.
And so I think, if you're, again, B2B or you're in a smaller company, just do a search on LinkedIn. Look for the companies that you admire. I think airlines credit cards, financial institutions do an incredible job on the retention side. And so then I would reach out to those folks and start forming your own advisory.
Peter: Excellent. Well, [00:33:00] fantastic advice that we often get from our guests here in the next CMO. And thank you, Scott and Iran for your time and for sharing your knowledge on the next CMO podcast. If those in the audience have ideas or suggestions about guests feel free to drop us a line at the next CMO.
Plannuh dot com. Follow us on Twitter on LinkedIn and all those other places. Make sure you join the next CMA. Next CMO community. Easy for me to say. And I hope you enjoyed the show and thanks again, Scott and Iran really appreciate the great discussion.
Eran: Thank you, Peter.